Information about the new Graduate Route
The UK government has announced the intention of launching a 2 year (or 3 year for PhD) Graduate Immigration visa from summer 2021. As of yet we do not have an exact date.
It is our understanding that the majority of students who start a course in 2020 should be able to apply for this visa- however, we are still lacking detail.
It is intimated that anyone who is completing a standard Undergraduate/Postgraduate or PhD course who is due to graduate any time after summer 2021 would definitely be able to apply.
We still do not know the situation for Professional courses (e.g. LPC) or for PRCert/PGDip and may not know until specific Policy Guidance is issued closer to the time- although we are trying to get confirmation from the UKVI.
Although we don't yet have complete guidance around eligibility and process, the UKVI have released some information in their July 2020 document: The UK's Points-Based Immigration System Further Details. Information from that Guidance is reproduced below:
The Graduate route will be launched in summer 2021 to provide international students the opportunity to stay in the UK to work or look for work after they graduate. Undergraduate and master's degree students will be able to stay for two years under the route, whilst PhD students will be able to stay for three years. Graduates will be able to switch into other routes in line with the wider approach to switching when applying for leave inside the UK. This will include the ability to switch into work routes if they are able to meet the requirements.
It will be an unsponsored route. All successful applicants will be granted a one-time non-extendable leave period of two years if graduating at undergraduate or masters level, or three years if graduating with a PhD, on this route and will be able to work, or look for work, at any skill level during this period. The route will also be Points-Based, with the full number of points being awarded for the successful completion of a degree from a UK Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
The current Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), open to international students who have completed a PhD in the UK and allowing them to remain and work here for 12 months after completing their studies, will be closed at the point the new Graduate Route is introduced.
Who can apply?
The Graduate route will be open to international students, who have valid leave as a Tier 4 (General) Student or as a Student at the time of application and who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance during that grant of leave. They must have completed the course which was stated on the CAS used to apply for their latest Tier 4 visa. We do not yet know if there will be any flexibility around this (e.g. you have changed course but didn't have to get a new visa in order to do so) but we will include it here once it becomes available.
Applicants must have completed the entirety of their degree in the UK except for permitted study abroad programmes or when distance learning has been necessary due to Covid-19. Concessions around the Graduate route due to COVID can be found in the UKVI COVID Concessions Guidance in paragraphs 3.20-3.25.
Any students who are due to complete their course in 2021, including those who started a one year Masters course (whether in the UK or by blended/remote learning) in September 2020 must be present and studying in the UK by 6th April 2021 to be eligible for the Graduate route. They must complete their final Semester of study within the UK.
Any student who started a one year Masters course in January 2021 must be present and studying in the UK by 27th September 2021 and complete their final semester in the UK (please check semester dates with your College to ensure that you know when your final semester starts and that you are in the UK before this date).
Students who are studying courses of longer than a year and who are not due to complete in 2021 should not have their eligibility to apply for the Graduate Routeaffected if they have had to study part of their course via distance learning as a direct result of COVID.
The route will not have a maintenance requirement and applicants will not need to demonstrate English language ability as they will already have proved English language ability by successfully completing a degree at a UK university. Applicants will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge at the usual rate for the Points-Based System’s routes. This route will not have recourse to public funds.
Table 10: Graduate route conditions and requirements
|Requirements||Conditions & Restrictions|
|Application fee||Yes||Switching routes (in country)||Yes|
|Immigration Skills Charge||No||Route to settlement||No|
|Immigration Health Charge||Yes||Dependants*||See below*|
|Biometrics||Yes||Access to Public Funds||No|
|* Graduates whose dependants are already with them in the UK will be allowed to continue sponsoring family members who make an application for further leave at the same time.|
This is the most up to date information that we are able to provide at this point